Laughing Gas

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Porter being Porter: a mélange of his worst elements.

Online: YouTube

Like other Porter "comedies", this is just a single lame gag in different settings, that nonetheless remains lame.

Four years after Porter's Great Train Robbery made the emblematic shot famous, he returns to it here with no significant development. They remain essentially outside the narrative (unlike Jack Frawley's 1904 Bold Bank Robbery), acting merely as a burlesque attraction (see Laughing Gas: The Close-Up and Racial Spectacle for an analysis).

Alice Guy-Blaché's Madam's Fancies shows just how conservative Porter's technique was at this stage. Madam's Fancies and Laughing Gas are closely related:

  • Both films were released in the same month
  • Both films exhibit the disruption caused by an uninhibited woman moving through the town
  • Both films use medium shots of the lead character

But Madam's Fancies, unlike Laughing Gas, integrates the medium shots into the narrative as actual closeups (following the lead of George Albert Smith's 1903 Mary Jane's Mishap - another exhibit of a willful woman's disruption).

Cinema was progressing, but Porter steadfastly stuck to his old ways.


Madam's Fancies/Madame's Cravings (Madame a des envies)

This shows that pregnancy is an opportunity for a woman to ruthlessly indulge every passing fancy. But her jones, can break his bones - partners beware! Uses medium shots within the narrative, in a way similar to the 1903 'Mary Jane's Mishap.'